By Brecken Branstrator, Ashley Davis & Michelle Graff
With the help of over 100 carats of white diamonds from Messika, Beyoncé created the best celebrity jewelry moment of 2018, according to National Jeweler editors.
New York—Our favorite saying at National Jeweler is “jewelry never sleeps,” and, all jokes aside, there was plenty of jewelry news to keep our editors busy in 2018.

Our third annual “Best Of” awards recognize the year’s buzziest jewels, headlines and even fraud fails (see Best Worst Attempt to Fool a Grading Laboratory) across 18 categories.

Without further ado, here are the winners.

Best Celebrity Jewelry Moment: Beyoncé at the Louvre

No, it didn’t happen at the Globes, the SAGs, the Oscars, or the Emmys. The best celebrity jewelry moment of the year took the idea of an iconic jewelry look to the next level, as few but Queen Bey herself could.

In the music video for “Apesh*t,” the first single released from her and husband Jay-Z’s “Everything is Love” album, Beyoncé wore Messika’s “Persian Drops” set, consisting of more than 100 carats of white diamonds.

Oh, and the entire video was filmed in and around the Louvre museum; Beyoncé sported the Messika jewels in front of the “Mona Lisa.” With all these elements combined, the video far surpasses any red carpet jewelry appearance we saw in 2018.

20181015 EugeniePrincess Eugenie set herself apart from her royal cohort with her bold jewelry looks in 2018.

Best Royal Jewel: Eugenie’s Emeralds

More prominent in celebrity media this year than actresses or musicians were the British millennial royals, who got engaged, married and pregnant, and whose every press trip and rumored feud was dissected ad nauseum.

Meghan Markle’s jewels were exquisite but a little bit of a yawn on her wedding day, though with as much drama as she’s provided royal watchers, one couldn’t blame her for wanting to play it safe. Instead, jewelry lovers got their fix of daring from Princess Eugenie, whose bold choice of a wedding day emerald tiara showed she’s no wallflower.

Of course, we shouldn’t have expected less from a woman who debuted a padparadscha sapphire engagement ring.

Best Jewelry Auction or Jewelry Auction Item: Marie Antoinette’s Jewelry

The auction world sees a lot of big stones and exceptional jewels. Sometimes it just takes that added bit of provenance or story behind a jewel to really set it apart. This year, the sale of Marie Antoinette’s jewelry—along with other jewels from the Bourbon-Parma family—was like no other.

20180815 GIA 1A face-up photo of the glued-together diamond spotted by graders at the GIA lab in Carlsbad, California this past summer (Photo by Robison McMurtry/GIA)

Best Worst Attempt to Fool a Grading Laboratory: The Glued-Together Diamond

Editors see some interesting lab alerts come across their desks.

In 2018, we found this one particularly fascinating—a diamond that had broken in half, been repaired with an adhesive and then submitted to the Gemological Institute of America with nary a word about the quick adhesive fix.

Best Instructional Article: Tips for Unclaimed Jewelry

National Jeweler prides itself not only on bringing the trade the latest news and developments, but also in providing instructional stories that help companies better manage their businesses.

This year, one of our most popular started out as a request from a reader for the link to an article about what to do with unclaimed jewelry. There wasn’t one, yet, but the team quickly realized that should be remedied.

In January we published “What Should Retailers Do with Unclaimed Jewelry?” featuring expert advice from the Jewelers Vigilance Committee.

Best Staff Road Trip: Montana Mine Visit  

Perhaps this is biased because it was chosen by the editor who took it, but oh well.

This year our senior editor headed west to Montana to visit the Potentate sapphire mine and the retailer who bought the Vortex Yogo sapphire mine, taking in lots of local flavor and establishing a new-found love for Big Sky Country along the way.

Best Karmic Retribution: Diamond Grading Lawsuit Attorney Loses Law License

Remember Brian Phillip Manookian, the Nashville, Tennessee-based lawyer who was making life difficult for independent jewelers a few years ago by using dubious tactics to attract plaintiffs for class-action lawsuits over diamonds over-graded by EGL International?

Well, he was banned from practicing law in Tennessee earlier this year, and then lost his appeal to have his license reinstated.

20181231 Squash blossom Heard HEADERThis squash blossom necklace from the Heard Museum’s collection was one of the pieces featured in the February article examining the history of the squash blossom in jewelry. (Photo credit: Craig Smith with the Heard Museum, Phoenix)

Best Jewelry History Lesson: The History Behind … The Squash Blossom Necklace

This article from February examining the style first popularized in the southwestern United States beginning in the 1870s was not only our favorite “The History Behind” from 2018 but also made our list of the most-read stories of the year. 

Best Jewelry-on-Reality-TV Moment: Bachelorette Becca Bling

It’s important for jewelry to appear in front of consumers, not only for the jewelry designer whose pieces are getting exposure but also for the benefit of growing jewelry demand in general.

This year, some Jewelers of America supplier member jewels went along for the ride on Becca Kufrin’s quest for love on “The Bachelorette.”

What better way to show off the beauty and romance of fine jewelry than seeing the pieces sparkle from the ears or fingers of a woman looking for “the one?”

20181231 Haiku GirlsTwo “gals” from The Haiku Guys + Gals working on their 17-syllable poems at Fortune & Frame’s Nov. 7 “Friendsgiving” event.

Best Party Trick: The Haiku Guys + Gals

In early November, two of our editors attended a “Friendsgiving” party hosted by New York-based jewelry brand Fortune & Frame. Founded by Gretel Going, the company sells fortune-cookie style fortunes encased in sterling silver or gold-plated brass pendants.  

For the November fete celebrating its new capsule collection, Fortune & Frame hired The Haiku Guys + Gals to write individualized poems for everyone at the party.

Attendees approached one of the two Haiku women, shared a concern or wish that they have, and the Haiku Gals clanked out a 17-syllable poem on an old-school typewriter that was then printed onto a small slip of paper and inserted into a necklace.

It was a fun, unique and on-brand pick for Fortune & Frame’s party, and we wouldn’t mind seeing The Haiku Guys + Gals at future industry functions.

Best Amanda’s Style File: Shoulder Dusters

Amid all the sumptuous birthstones and timely trends, one Amanda’s Style File was particularly delightful and modern—a look at 15 fun and festive shoulder dusters.

Along with an earnest return of the chandelier earring and the prevalence of bold earrings on red carpets, the trend story highlighted last year’s focus on earrings, which is sure to carry on into the new year.

20180601 Potw NikosNikos Koulis' “Oui” fringe hoop earrings

Best Piece of the Week: Nikos Koulis

Speaking of earrings, there was one pair that stood out among the rest.

Shown at Couture and featured as our “Piece of the Week” as the jewelry trade show was happening, Nikos Koulis’ “Oui” Fringe Earring is just as head-turning in 18-karat white and black enamel with diamonds as it is in 18-karat yellow gold.

Out of a number of strong best “Piece of the Week” contenders this year, from Retrouvai to Selim Mouzannar, Kim Mee Hye to Judy Geib, Koulis is our No. 1 most coveted item of the bunch.

Best Collaboration: Nadine Ghosn x McDonald’s

Designers love a collaboration. It offers a chance for creativity and partnership with another brand, often outside of the jewelry industry, plus it provides a handy angle for getting press coverage through said new and noteworthy venture.

We cover a lot of collaborations here at National Jeweler, but when Nadine Ghosn partnered with fast- food mecca McDonald’s, even we were shocked.

Updating her signature hamburger stackable ring to create a blinged-out Big Mac version for the sandwich’s 50th anniversary, Ghosn upended notions of what luxury means in the 21st century.

Best Up-and-Coming Designer: Brent Neale

Brent Neale might not seem as green as a typical new fine jewelry brand (credit that to eight years working for Kara Ross) but she’s been in business for less than two years. 

And already she’s hit her stride. Churning out a constant stream of new pieces, her rainbow, unicorn and flower menagerie has grown to include mushrooms, cannabis leaves and multicolor gypsy rings.

Her colorful world is a total trip, and retailers like Barney’s and Forty Five Ten are down for the ride.  

Best News Story Published on National Jeweler: Nirav Modi Case Is Another ‘Nail in the Coffin’

Published in late February after news broke in India of the diamantaire’s alleged $2 billion bank fraud, this story went above and beyond the details of the complicated scheme to analyze the implications for financing in the diamond sector.

Best Colored Gemstone Story on National Jeweler: What It’s Like to Be a Field Gemologist, Part I and II

The winning article of this category is a two-parter that stems from one fantastic interview.

It was chosen not only because it was an exclusive chat with a field gemologist and a look into what his career entailed, but also because of how much the editor who interviewed him enjoyed putting the story together.

In March, National Jeweler ran a Q&A with Vincent Pardieu, a field gemologist who used to be with the GIA and now is helping the Danat lab in Bahrain build a reference collection. Revisit part I and part II now.

20180905 moonstoned 2

Best Blog Published on National Jeweler: The Next Generation—Elizabeth Potts of The Moonstoned

We love the launch of a new series around here, and 2018 did not disappoint.

Fashion Editor Ashley Davis finished 50 Jewelers/50 States in 2017 and embarked on a new endeavor this year--profiling up-and-coming voices in the industry in a series titled “The Next Generation.”

Read her September profile on Elizabeth Potts, a millennial with a “badass” approach to antique jewelry (and a badass Instagram to go with it; see above).

Best Jewelry Article That Did Not Appear on National Jeweler: The U.S. Jewelry Market is Much Smaller Than You Think

In September, longtime industry journalist and analyst Edahn Golan published this sharp analysis of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s greatly revised watch and jewelry sales figures and what they tell us about the state of jewelry sales in the United States.

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Since 1906, National Jeweler has been the must-read news source for smart jewelry professionals--jewelry retailers, designers, buyers, manufacturers, and suppliers. From market analysis to emerging jewelry trends, we cover the important industry topics vital to the everyday success of jewelry professionals worldwide. National Jeweler delivers the most urgent jewelry news necessary for running your day-to-day jewelry business here, and via our daily e-newsletter, website and other specialty publications, such as "The State of the Majors." National Jeweler is published by Jewelers of America, the leading nonprofit jewelry association in the United States.